Muzaffarpur: Death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has risen to 117 here alone with 98 deaths at Sri Krishna Medical College & Hospital (SKMCH) & 19 reported from Kejriwal hospital. (Also read: Litchi Goes Out of Market in Wake of AES Outbreak)

With this, the death toll in the state has risen to 132. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a PIL seeking direction to the Centre to send a team of medical professionals to review and assist in preventing the epidemic in here.

Bihar Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar had earlier admitted that even the government is unclear about what was causing the outbreak. “We are still not aware if the disease is caused due to some virus, bacteria, toxin effect due to the consumption of litchi, malnourishment or due to environmental conditions such as high temperature and humidity,” he said.

SKMCH Chief Medical Officer S P Singh also said the reason behind the outbreak of the disease was yet to be confirmed. “We don’t know it and it was being ascertained medically,” he said.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan did not rule out the possibility of AES due to viral infection or toxin effect, which could possibly be caused by the consumption of litchi, as well as high temperature and humidity.

On Wednesday, the Odisha government ordered a test of litchis in the state. Department of Health & Family Welfare of the Odisha government said, “Encephalitis is spreading in litchi growing areas of Bihar and other parts of the country. In view of this, the Food Safety Commissioner has been directed to collect and test a sample of litchi being sold in the market to ascertain toxic contents.”

Meanwhile, people alleged that their ailing children were not being admitted in the hospital. “No one has told us anything about or given us ORS. We don’t know the symptoms of AES. Our children are burning with fever since 4-5 days. Doctor asked us to get medicines for them and said they’ll admit them if the fever doesn’t go down after that. We don’t have money,” said a worried parent.